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Old 11-09-2010, 07:26 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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Can I Use My (American) Cell Phone in Canada?

I'm going to Montreal for a few days next summer. Will I be able to use my cell phone (AT&T is my carrier) to call locally within Montreal (like for a cab or something)? How about to call home and talk to Mrs. Homie?

And if I can use it, how bad are AT & T's international rates (or do they even apply w/r/t Canada-to-US calls)?
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2010, 07:33 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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They're going to be expensive, but you should be able to make the calls.
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  #3  
Old 11-09-2010, 07:48 AM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
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Call AT&T and tell them you will be traveling in Canada.

When I went to London they setup a special rate that lasted 1 week (1 month? I forget).

Anyway, it was surprisingly straightforward and simple. They will spell out the costs clearly and the costs weren't too bad. You will not want to make lots of calls at those rates but tolerable for a few, relatively short, calls you might want to make.

IIRC this did not include data. TURN OFF YOUR DATA SERVICES!!! (If your phone has that capability.) Usually you can go to the website of the people who make your phone (e.g. iPhone) and they tell you what things to disable.

Can't stress that enough. I have friends who live in Europe and went to other countries only to find a $600 bill waiting for them because their phone was pulling e-mail and such in the background.

When I was in London, for data, I'd find a hot spot (e.g. coffee shop) with free WiFi and let my phone pull data that way. Not using the cell towers then and it is free.

Last edited by Whack-a-Mole; 11-09-2010 at 07:48 AM..
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:48 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
And if I can use it, how bad are AT & T's international rates (or do they even apply w/r/t Canada-to-US calls)?
$0.79 a minute.

For $4.99, you can purchase an "international" plan that lowers that rate to $0.59. If you make more than 25 minutes worth of calls, you'll save money.


ETA: What Whack said about data plans. Local charges will apply, and they won;t show up on your bill for several weeks. Text messages, too.

Last edited by anson2995; 11-09-2010 at 07:50 AM..
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  #5  
Old 11-09-2010, 09:07 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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Just chiming in to support Whack-a-Mole.

When we moved to Canada, we contacted AT&T and got their US & Canada plan. Other than the minor fee, it was seamless. They wouldn't have let us continue forever, but we kept the US phone numbers and phones for three months. There are lots of good options for the short term. We used cafés’ wireless networks for data access.

Last edited by Dr. Drake; 11-09-2010 at 09:08 AM..
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2010, 09:24 AM
Fried Dough Ho Fried Dough Ho is offline
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I went to Vancouver during the Olympics and forgot to call AT&T for the change. Silly me, I was using the mapping program on my iPhone, texting people, and making my usual amount of phone calls.

$1,900 later, I learned my lesson.... And I was only there three days!
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2010, 11:05 AM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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One more to support Whack-a-Mole.

Phone calls themselves are not too bad, especially if they are short and infrequent.

But on one recent trip to Montreal I made the mistake of taking a few pictures with my phone and sending them to my wife, who wasn't with me on this trip. Result: $200 in data charges.
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  #8  
Old 11-09-2010, 11:11 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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As others have said, your phone will work no problem.

The Big Three Canadian networks (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) all use 3G UMTS, so your 3G phone (and iPhone, except first gen) will work on them. Bell and Telus have legacy CDMA networks, so Verizon-type CDMA phones will work. Rogers has a legacy GSM network, so your North American 2G GSM phones (and first-gen iPhone with EDGE only) will work.

Wind Mobile and Videotron use the same 3G frequencies as T-Mobile USA--the AWS band--so T-Mobile's 3G phones will work (note that Wind has restricted 3G coverage).

Pricing, however... I'm not sure. But others have chimed in on that.
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2010, 07:17 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Simply call and ensure that your phone will work before hand. Not that there's anything incompatible with the technology; sometimes by default international roaming is turned off by your carrier.
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2010, 07:41 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I have a Jitterbug. It is only a phone; no photos, no texting (although you can pay extra and get that). They work fine in Canada, wherever I've been and charge the same in both countries. I pay about $20/month ($15 plus taxes and all) for 50 minutes, which I rarely use. The only thing is that they use 9 digit dialing in the US and Bell Canada won't put the call through without the 1.

I did once have a Canadian cell phone that didn't work in the US. I guess I still have it, but I haven't used it in years (it was pay-as-you-go). It was Fido and certainly most Fido phones work in both places, but not pay-as-you-go phones. They wanted me to get a more expensive plan and only ended up losing a customer.
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  #11  
Old 11-09-2010, 08:07 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I have a Jitterbug. It is only a phone; no photos, no texting (although you can pay extra and get that). They work fine in Canada, wherever I've been and charge the same in both countries. I pay about $20/month ($15 plus taxes and all) for 50 minutes, which I rarely use. The only thing is that they use 9 digit dialing in the US and Bell Canada won't put the call through without the 1.
*ahem*

Ten-digit dialling. Both the US and Canada have the same format of phone numbers, a three-digit area code followed by a three-digit exchange code followed by a four-digit line number. XXX-XXX-XXXX. The 1 on front, if you use it (and that varies by location and phone company), is the eleventh digit.

[/phone geek]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I did once have a Canadian cell phone that didn't work in the US. I guess I still have it, but I haven't used it in years (it was pay-as-you-go). It was Fido and certainly most Fido phones work in both places, but not pay-as-you-go phones. They wanted me to get a more expensive plan and only ended up losing a customer.
The phone probably would have worked if it was on a post-paid plan, but it was disallowed because the pre-paid plan didn't cover the States. (Fido post-paid customer since '97.)
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:10 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fried Dough Ho View Post
I went to Vancouver during the Olympics and forgot to call AT&T for the change. Silly me, I was using the mapping program on my iPhone, texting people, and making my usual amount of phone calls.

$1,900 later, I learned my lesson.... And I was only there three days!
Yike!

This is why the iPhone has a warning, right there on its screen next to the Data Roaming switch, saying essentially, "IF YOU TURN THIS ON, YOU WILL PAY A LOT OF MONEY".
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  #13  
Old 11-09-2010, 08:11 PM
statsman1982 statsman1982 is offline
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Your phone should work in Canada as the others have stated. Here's one more data point:

I went to Vancouver this summer and I was able to use my Sprint phone just fine, but I purchased an international plan that lowers the per-minute charge to $0.20 rather than the usual $0.59. The plan is about $5.00 and it's prorated, so for the week that I used it, it only cost roughly $1 for the plan plus the reduced per-minute charge.
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:53 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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Since the OP has been answered, I've read that if you're traveling near the Mexican border in a remote area, it is possible for your phone to switch over to roaming from a Mexican provider and then you'll see a huge bill later. Any truth to this? How about in remote areas near the Canadian border?
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  #15  
Old 11-09-2010, 10:04 PM
Fried Dough Ho Fried Dough Ho is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Yike!

This is why the iPhone has a warning, right there on its screen next to the Data Roaming switch, saying essentially, "IF YOU TURN THIS ON, YOU WILL PAY A LOT OF MONEY".
I have an iPhone and I don't remember any messages like that...

If it was probably there, I was just having too much to notice it. I admit that I can be pretty stupid!
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:21 PM
congodwarf congodwarf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
Since the OP has been answered, I've read that if you're traveling near the Mexican border in a remote area, it is possible for your phone to switch over to roaming from a Mexican provider and then you'll see a huge bill later. Any truth to this? How about in remote areas near the Canadian border?
When I lived in Plattsburgh NY and drove to the casino in Hogansburg, my cell phone swapped to international roaming in 2 or 3 different spots. I feel bad for the people who live and work there. It must be a pain.
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  #17  
Old 11-09-2010, 10:23 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
Since the OP has been answered, I've read that if you're traveling near the Mexican border in a remote area, it is possible for your phone to switch over to roaming from a Mexican provider and then you'll see a huge bill later. Any truth to this? How about in remote areas near the Canadian border?
It is possible to hit foreign towers and roam inadvertently. I remember standing on the beach at Batchawana Bay north of the Soo and getting a Michigan tower from fifty kilometres away across Lake Superior, but that was unusual. There was no Canadian cell service in the area, and the US signal was carrying over water. The US tower was too far away to work anyways, so it didn't matter.

You might be able to manually constrain your phone to only the networks you want to use, if this is a problem. I've read of border towers out west having special cost-free roaming agreements, especially if they're the only ones in the area. But such arrangements would be highly local.

Going to Montreal, you'll quickly pass far enough from the border that this won't be a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fried Dough Ho View Post
I have an iPhone and I don't remember any messages like that...

If it was probably there, I was just having too much to notice it. I admit that I can be pretty stupid!
Not stupid. It's three levels down in the settings (Settings, General, Network), and there are a lot of settings on the iPhone.
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  #18  
Old 11-10-2010, 09:44 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
It is possible to hit foreign towers and roam inadvertently. I remember standing on the beach at Batchawana Bay north of the Soo and getting a Michigan tower from fifty kilometres away across Lake Superior, but that was unusual.
Likewise, I was in Ft. Gratiot, Michigan at one point over the summer, and started getting Rogers as my roaming provider. The lake gets pretty wide at that point; it's not like I was parked under the blue water bridge 200 meters from Canada. (When I got roaming data charges from that day, a quick call to AT&T got the charges eliminated.)
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  #19  
Old 11-10-2010, 09:54 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
*ahem*

Ten-digit dialling. Both the US and Canada have the same format of phone numbers, a three-digit area code followed by a three-digit exchange code followed by a four-digit line number. XXX-XXX-XXXX. The 1 on front, if you use it (and that varies by location and phone company), is the eleventh digit.
Being a mathematician, I can't count very well. Let's see, 3 + 3 + 4 is, uh, 9? Right?
But anyway, in the US, the Jitterbug providers automatically add the 1, while Bell Canada is in the business of training its users, instead of providing service. I think in BC, the, ah, ten digit dialing worked fine.
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